The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare

      What if someone whom we had loved very much died but came back to life later? Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale tells the story of two friends who, out of misunderstanding, fell out with each other. The play whose date of inception is not clearly known is categorized as both comedy and romance.

      King Leontes of Sicily and King Polixenes of Bohemia were old friends. Polixenes had made a visit to Sicily and was about to return home after a long stay. Al though he was anxious to go, Leontes’ wife, Hermione, persuaded him to stay longer at the bidding of her husband.

      However, Leontes became obsessed with the idea that his pregnant wife has been unfaithful to him with Polixenes. He arranged with a Courtier to poison Polixenes but the servant warned the king of Bohemia and Polixenes and the Courtier, Camilla, escaped together. Furious, Leontes accused his wife of infidelity and the child Hermione was bearing, illegitimate. He threw her in prison and she was reported to have died.

      The king abandoned the child, Perdita, on the coast of Bohemia. He lost his son too. Leontes was heart-broken and repentant over whatever happened in his life. Meanwhile, time passed and after sixteen years, Florizel, Polixene’s son fell in love with Perdita, who was living as a shepherd’s daughter. In the end, the lovers marry each other. Hermione, who was thought to be dead, comes back to life and everything turns out well.

       One of Shakespeare’s most famous stage directions can be found in this play. In one scene, Antigone’s who abandons Perdita is chased out of the stage by a bear. The instruction reads ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’. It is not known whether Shakespeare used a real bear from the London bear-pits, or an actor in bear costume.

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